ASK MR. TITO - WWE Wrestlemania 36 Changes, AEW Dynamite, Brodie Lee and Matt Hardy AEW Debuts, and Much More

ASK MR. TITO – WWE Wrestlemania 36 Changes, AEW Dynamite, Brodie Lee and Matt Hardy AEW Debuts, and Much More

Follow Mr. Tito on Twitter by going to the following link: @titowrestling

Welcome back to my weekend column, “ASK Mr. Tito”, that is presented to you exclusively at WrestlingHeadlines.com, a LordsofPain.net company. I hope that everyone reading this is safe and secure, as these are trying times. Please take this pandemic threat seriously, as it can be spread easily and can be lethal to the elderly or individuals with pre-existing respitory conditions. Meanwhile, many aren’t realizing the Economic ramifications of people being forced to stay home and businesses being forced to shut their doors or change their hours.

As I wrote about in last week’s column, people need to financially take care of themselves… I agreed with the recommendation of having at least 6 months in Savings on you at all times and if that wasn’t possible, develop assistance plans with friends/families and gain knowledge of unemployment programs… But, staying at home and saving your money has severe short-term consequences too and that’s where I’ll advise today.

Support LOCAL businesses… Right now in Ohio, Bars & Restaurants are required to close by 9pm and many are forced to only do Takeout/Drive-Thru. While this policy may help reduce the spread of the Coronavirus, it’s shredding the restaurant business. Places like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and other major corporation based food places have piles of money in their bank accounts to be ready for economic downturns. Your local “Mom & Pop” restaurants do not… Support them. They need your help NOW. And believe me, if you show loyalty to them during these tough economic times, you’ll get amazing service repeatedly. Secondly, please shop at LOCAL grocery stores. Walmart, Kroger, Dollar General, Aldi’s, and other big corporate chains, again, have big piles of money in their bank accounts. Local ones do not… Local businesses don’t offer shares of stock to be traded on the Stock Market. SUPPORT LOCAL BUSINESSES. In my own practice, I’ve always supported the local grocery store rather than the bigger chains…

As a wrestling fan, consider that the WWE (piles of cash, publicly traded, owns their own facilities, big TV deal) and AEW (piles of cash, owns their own facilities, good TV deal) will do just fine. In fact, operating in the empty venues to air WWE RAW or Smackdown and AEW Dynamite will prove to be COST SAVING measures. Just ask Eric Bischoff during 1993 when he moved most of WCW’s television tapings to the MGM Studios in Florida. Sure, the quality of the presentation dipped, but WCW was losing money at the time. The costs of Travel, Television Production, and Leasing Arenas are very expensive for pro wrestling companies especially when Attendance was declining anyway.

But as a wrestling fan, you should really consider helping out your local Independent scene. Because of the imposed quarantines or the self-quarantines, it’s impossible for many promoters to host independent shows. If you want to show some support, first find out who is performing for FUN (many just do it as a weekend fix) and who is doing it as a legitimate income. For the latter, check out their webpage or Social Media offerings. Many might have a Patreon or a merchandise store that helps support their wrestling endeavors. Just be careful on the merchandise portion, as sometimes a Third Party making said merch will take a large cut. If a wrestler is selling their merchandise directly (them actually mailing it), then go for it.

I still suggest that the biggest pain from the COVID-19 pandemic will the the Recessed Economy that follows or is already here. I’ve been stating it throughout 2019 that the economy was “fragile” and “imaginary” based on it being too dependent on high levels of Government Deficit Spending ($1 Trillion in deficits for fiscal year 2019, really? Really?!?) and low Interest Rates offered by our Central Bank called the Federal Reserve. We have been UNDER 2.00% since mid-2008 and that is historically low by comparison to only the Great Depression. Growing economies don’t need such assistance. This Coronavirus merely exposed what a phony economy was in place and delivered a knockout punch to a wobbly fighter in the ring. Now, we’re really screwed because the Policy response to a Recession has typically been INCREASE Government Spending and LOWER Interest Rates. We’ve already been doing that!

There’s REAL Economic Pain and Hardship coming… Save your money on things other than necessities and if you need to spend money, support LOCAL businesses.

And help one another… Be there for each other. I believe that the Unemployment Rate will shoot up soon. Right now, it’s at a very low 3.5% with 5,787,000 considered as “unemployed” within a reported Labor Force of 259,628,000. There are already reports of millions either losing hours or actually getting laid off with these forced quarantines. That rate will jump and on a technical level, it’s usually when it jumps above 6% where economists worry. After everyone raids the grocery stores, I figure that this industry will hit a wall too and with the quarantines, the number of employees actually working in a factory to product more goods will be less too.

People are going to need help… Watch your friends and family closely along with anyone you know that could be really mentally harmed by the recent events or a loss of a job. Do what you can to help out… At the very least, talk to them or acknowledge them… Some people just need positivity in their lives to uplift them.

Be a good neighbor, co-worker, family member, friend, and shoulder to cry on. We’ll get through this if we lean on each other.

And listen… I’m always lurking on Twitter and my handle is @titowrestling. You may ask me about anything, whether if it’s just about wrestling or any advice that I could possibly provide. I’ll do my best in an online capacity to help when I can. I’ve built my loyalty and my brand by actually responding to readers on my channels (Email or Twitter). As long as you’re cool with me, I’ll gladly be there for you.

Take this pandemic seriously for the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions seriously… But take this declining Economy seriously, too. Take care of yourself & your family/friends, shop locally, and be there for others when you can.

I’ll put the Mr. Tito mask back on and let’s talk some wrestling!

*****

ASK MR. TITO

Are you happy that Wrestlemania 36 will continue on its scheduled date? What about it spanning over 2 nights instead of just 1?

Of course I’m happy. I have argued that Wrestlemania 36 SHOULD NOT cancel merely on the premise that we need something NORMAL in our lives right now with the Coronavirus cancelling or postponing everything. NCAA Tournaments gone, NBA/NHL suspended, MLB postponed, Kentucky Derby postponed, XFL cancelled (did it really have a chance?), along with many Concerts being cancelled/postponed. If we’re stuck at home, we need entertainment options besides binging things on Netflix, Disney+, Amazon, etc. Sporting Events are unpredictable in nature and build a sense of pride… It’s March and there is NO March Madness… Kentucky Derby in September? Really??

The bigger issue is that if you postpone Wrestlmania to May, June, July, August, etc… What guarantees that the Federal, State, City, County, or Local governments will release their quarantine orders? The Coronavirus threat could still remain or possibly get worse! Thus, if you postpone Wrestlemania and it still can’t happen in front of a live crowd, what’s the use? I agree 100% with the WWE on this line of thinking along with mine that we, as wrestling fans, need something NORMAL in our lives again. If we’re required to stay in our homes, then we need to stay SANE while being in our homes. Hey, it’s early April and we know what happens then! WRESTLEMANIA BABY!

Now, the 2 night thing… I’m good with that and I’d encourage the WWE to make this a PERMANENT change. Sorry, but the 6 hour Wrestlemania presentation in one night is brutal to me. Split that up in to 2-3 hour shows over 2 nights and that could be good. New Japan has great success making big shows cover multiple nights, why can’t WWE? “Wrestlemania Weekend” is already a known term to wrestling fans, anyway.

Presentation wise, that’s where the WWE must improve things… They missed the boat on having wrestlers in the crowd like AEW just did on Wednesday night by having babyfaces and heels in the crowd. So much storytelling that could come from that, as eventually, that crowd of wrestlers will brawl over something. I was CRINGING at how bad Roman Reigns and Bill Goldberg were last night with their contract signings with dead silence (well, I could hear someone from the production truck counting it down! LOL). For a company that prides themselves on production, WWE has to get something of a crowd surrounding that Performance Center ring for Wrestlemania Weekend.

*****

What did you think of AEW Dynamite’s presentation on Wednesday?

They nailed it. As I argued last week about the WWE and Wrestlemania, the WWE should have had babyface and heel wrestlers surrounding the ring instead of fans. WWE didn’t do that, so what does AEW do? They surrounded the ring with their wrestler. They nailed it and it provided the PERFECT atmosphere for their shows during these trying times. For many times during the show, it didn’t feel like an empty arena.

AEW is hitting its strides right now… After the wheels were falling off during 2019 and early 2020 due to Talent and Creative Decisions, someone has clearly taken charge in that promotion. I believe that Tony Khan has taken more charge and has controlled what his EVPs have been booking, particularly in the midcard. Imagine that. A longtime wrestling fan and a rich kid seems to know how to better book a wrestling promotion than the wrestlers he hired to do that very same job. I believe that Tony has “rabbit ears” and has been hearing the criticisms online and probably from Jim Cornette. After all, Tony was the one who reportedly walked out of Tony Shiavone’s birthday party roast when someone referred to him as a “money mark”.

They are starting to morph into the competitive wrestling promotion that we all dreamed of when AEW was announced to be forming during early 2019. This could be a very exciting ride ahead of us, especially as Free Agents start to arrive…

*****

Do you believe that Matt Hardy or Brodie Lee (Luke Harper) were desperate signings?

No way. These are not the “stars of yesterday” kind of signings that TNA routinely did or what WCW began to do during 1997 when they signed anyone with WWE experience (though I LOVED Rick Martel’s comeback). You could argue Matt Hardy due to his age and mileage, but Matt is hungry to succeed and is well invested on the creative side of things to keep him interesting.

Brodie Lee, however, is a HUGE signing. WWE took Luke Harper for granted, period. Go show me, within the last 5 years, who pushed Randy Orton to a better match than Luke Harper did at Elimination Chamber 2017. The guy not only has size but amazing ability and agility that makes everything look smooth in the ring. In my opinion, besides the injuries, what held Luke Harper and may hold Brodie Lee back are the gimmicks… Long beard and working for a weird cult… That draws how? The Wyatt Family, aside from introducing Braun Strowman, has been very disappointing. The Dark Order has been one of the biggest criticisms for AEW and now Brodie leads them?

BUT, if you inject a tremendous talent into anything, they can turn things around… Remember what happened to CM Punk when the WWE injected him into the Nexus that was falling apart? That’s when he cut his hair to the slicked back look and began a little more serious with his tone and presentation as a wrestler. He then took off as a wrestler during 2011.

I LOVED seeing Brodie Lee taunt the WWE with the hint of the Sister Abigail move and into his devastating discus clothesline. But that promo Luke Harper cut… Man, that was tremendous. The guy can talk… Who knew that? Oh yeah, the WWE kept Luke Harper silent and let Bray Wyatt ramble on behalf of the group.

I think that Matt Hardy is a good Free Agent signing and is good fan service… But I believe that Brodie Lee is one of those Free Agent signings that will become a major regret of the WWE. It’s one thing if the WWE releases a disgruntled wrestler with an inflated self worth… It’s another when they release a wrestler whom they’ve screwed with terrible booking for years. AEW now has Dean Ambrose, Brodie Lee, and Shawn Spears… 3 wrestlers with legitimate talent that the WWE fed poor booking and weird character traits thanks to their corporate writers and marketing group. In a few months, the freakin’ Revival will join them.

That’s why I keep saying that AEW reminds me of WCW after its disaster of an Uncensored 1996 Pay Per View show. When you start to eliminate the weird and complicated booking and make the right free agent signings, things will click.

And that’s why I argued in my last Ask Mr. Tito Column that someone like CM Punk should take a serious look at AEW as a big free agent signing. He’s the ultimate wrestler who was screwed repeatedly by the WWE and fans would join him to help “stick it” to the WWE.

I’m happy for Matt Hardy personally but I’m really excited to see what Brodie Lee can do without the WWE filter. He is the big body talent that Jim Ross was suggesting that AEW needs to recruit right now.

*****

What do you think of the WWE signing former NFL player Rob Gronkowski to a wrestling contract?

Sigh… Didn’t he retire from the NFL because the injuries were mounting? Right? In that league, the head injuries really rack up. Gronk claimed to have 20 separate concussions in his football career though his NFL career has 2 documented Grade I concussions. Oh, and he’s had multiple surgeries to repair serious injuries.

And that’s on top of having to fully train him as a wrestler.

He won’t be joining a territory that will teach him all of the fundamentals of pro wrestling while humbling him by making him wrestle in front of small crowds… Nope, he’ll be trained on how to read scripts and taught a style of wrestling that lacks psychology.

Look, Rob Gronknowski is a big name… But we’ve had many ex-football players try this sport and have looked really bad with minimal training. What is the hang-up that we always have with Roman Reigns and Bill Goldberg? Their training! Goldberg barely had any and Roman was rushed to the top with just a few years of training and mostly working tag matches.

Now – If he can figure out the wrestling part, it could work. Rob has a great personality and is highly charismatic. But again, he’ll be speaking scripted lines to audiences instead of speaking from the heart. THAT IS THE PROBLEM. WWE has a bunch of corporate types and failed Hollywood writers that control anything that their performers say or do.

I understand WHY the signing happened… But this isn’t Jim Ross signing him and creating a developmental plan for Jim Cornette and Danny Davis to execute. This is Vince McMahon signing him on celebrity only and doesn’t have the developmental infrastructure that a raw talent like Brock Lesnar had during 2000-2002.

I wish Gronk the best… But there is a reason why he retired from the NFL (injuries) and the WWE infrastructure in place won’t help him succeed as it could.

But I wish him the best and I hope that I’m wrong. If this thing works, it would be huge for the WWE and that’s why the signing obviously happened. But if it doesn’t, it’s a big gamble financially for the WWE and also hurts the morale of your trained wrestlers who are pushed out of the way for a celebrity who either can’t do it or doesn’t want it like they do.

*****

Why are you columns so long and lengthy?

That’s what she said.

I actually receive this criticism often and I’d like to address it… For one, I’m a columnist and am not a news writer. I’m just writing my opinion and I usually like to go in-depth with said topic. Furthermore, I LOVE to write and I often “get in the zone” when I’m writing. Sometimes, I’ll spend 3-4 hours on a column if I’m inspired. I started this morning at 5:20am writing this column and the clock legitimately says 6:57am as I’m typing this sentence. As you’ll see below, I still have the “Last Word” to write.

And if I wrote a shorter column, I’d get criticized for not writing enough…

I believe that the genesis of the criticisms that I receive are the Ads… Because I write a longer column, it may cause more ads to load. I can’t control that but at the same time, I do wish that readers would understand that this is part of any website business. Every content providing type of website has ads on them and I’ve seen much worse at other wrestling websites. The ads help pay for the website, bandwidth, and content providers (not myself, still voluntary).

In my mind with the “Ask Tito” columns, it allows you to scroll down and pick & choose which questions to read. Instead of one big block of paragraphs, I have conveniently sectioned off each question to allow you to pick and choose. I have even thought of creating like a menu at the top of hyperlinks to click for each topic, but I’ve just been too lazy to research the HTML coding to do so (plus, I’d need to test it).

Writing columns is FUN TIME for me and if I write longer, well, that’s just what happens… And I have been writing longer since just after I started… For as the criticisms I receive for having lengthy columns, I receive a ton of praise because I can pump out a ton of content per column. Damned if I do, damned if I don’t.

What else are you going to read on the weekend?

*****

How will a lower interest rate market help the WWE financially?

Depends on their Bank, of course… Let me explain a bit on Monetarist Economics which is an economic theory that suggests Governments can assist ailing economies or stabilize growing inflation through controlling money injections into the Banking system. Simply put, Banks typically raise capital to make Loans (considered “Assets”) by raising Deposits (considered as “Liabilities”). Banks function by using a Balance Sheet with their Assets being exactly equal to their Liabilities. In addition to Deposits on their Liability side, banks can also increase their Liability side by borrowing from the Federal Reserve as an additional funding mechanism to make more Loans (Assets). THUS, when the Federal Reserve (our Central Bank operated by the Government) lowers interest rates, they are trying to entice Banks to increase their Borrowings section of their Liability side. In turn, Banks will then offer what’s called a PRIME RATE to their most credit worthy customers which equals the Interest Rate offered by the Federal Reserve on the higher end of the range (“Fed Funds Rate”) + 3%.

In the past few weeks, the Federal Funds Rate went from a target range of 1.50% to 1.75% to a new Target Range of 0% to 0.25%. Thus, the PRIME RATE went from 4.75% to 3.25% offered to the most credit worthy customers.

If you remember from a past Ask Tito column when I spoke at length about the decline in the WWE Stock Price. Remember what I said? Shareholder Equity, to the WWE, is part of their Liability side of their balance sheet which helps them to raise capital to invest and expand their company. When the Stock Price declines, that causes them to become more reliant on their Loan offerings from Banks instead (their Loans are on their Liability side of the balance sheet, too). BUT, now that Interest Rates have been cut, the WWE is now paying LESS in interest on their Loans… Thus, the Stock Price impact isn’t as much of a financial burden on them now…

Of course now, the WWE has to deal with their entire Live Attendance and Merchandise well drying up… That will hurt the amount of Cash that they have on their Asset side of their balance sheet. Ditto for no Live Gate for Wrestlemania. If WWE chooses to maintain the size of their existing operations, they’ll have to borrow more. But, interest rates have been lowered and that proposition would be less painful.

To a struggling business, though, lower interest rates will be more important in order for them to help them meet payroll with a loan or credit line. Many are wondering why Policy Makers put most of their assistance towards the Banking System… Well, that’s why. Cheaper credit, in theory, will make the cost of borrowing money lower to offset declining revenues… The hope is that businesses won’t terminate as many employees and also stay afloat as a business, during a recession, with lower interest payments. In theory… Lowering interest rates has other multiplier effects that often don’t work out as perfectly as intended.

*****

And now, my final rant…

THE LAST WORD

Can we just announce that Diamond Dallas Page qualifies for sainthood already?

Seriously…

What a great individual to have in people’s lives and also around a pro wrestling company. All Elite Wrestling is very lucky to have the man known as DDP around. I can imagine that DDP Yoga is being taught and advised to their wrestlers and Page’s constant positive vibes have to be great for the younger talent to hear on that roster.

And then you have Jake “the Snake” Roberts appearing on AEW shows. Holy cow.

Think about the Pro Wrestling business about 15 years ago… Wrestlers of any ages were dying well before the age of 55 and many wrestlers in their later 30’s or more were unable to physically perform any longer. The 2000s were a miserable time to be a wrestling fan because many of your all-time favorites were either dying or were disabled with injuries. The deaths were more sad because they were often substance abuse related BECAUSE wrestlers were dealing with severe injuries. See, both problems were hand-in-hand… Wrestlers had pain and they took pills to ease such pain…

But then you have someone like Diamond Dallas Page who comes along and CARES about the lives of his fellow pro wrestlers.

Not only does DDP care about pro wrestlers, but he innovated a legitimate program that not only improves the physical AND mental lives of wrestlers. Multiple wrestlers such as AJ Styles and Chris Jericho swear by DDP Yoga EXTENDING their careers. Jericho has repeatedly told the story of how multiple doctors advised him to have career-ending back surgery but the DDP Yoga changed the way he treated his body and improved his flexibility to continue wrestling late into his 40s. AJ Styles can continue to perform at a high level and has had great success in the WWE because of still being able to physically perform.

But that’s just the physical training of it…

Thanks to DDP, we still have wrestling legends like Jake “the Snake” Roberts and Scott Hall to enjoy. As you’ve seen from various documentaries, both individuals were in deep trouble due to substance abuse and poor health. Then, DDP cared… He reached out to both guys when they were at their lowest, took them into his housing complex, and created programs to get both individuals back on track. Now, both guys are sober and thriving as legends. Many of their longtime fans, and believe me, both are adored by wrestling fans, can enjoy them at appearances. Then, when needed, both guys can still appear on WWE or AEW shows for a reaction that will always remain in place with wrestling fans.

Jake and Scott could have been additional wrestling legends that we lost… Yet, look at them… They are still with us and within the past few weeks, both have appeared on television with Scott on Smackdown for the NWO reunion and Jake cutting a badass promo on Cody Rhodes.

However, there is a bigger impact going on in pro wrestling right now thanks to inspiration by DDP. See, Diamond Dallas Page was born during April 5th, 1956 which will make him the tender age of 64 very soon. He became a pro wrestler at the age of 35 during late 1991. Think about how crazy that is! By 1996 (when DDP would turn freakin’ 40 years old), DDP was about to unleash the Diamond Cutter and lay the groundwork for the babyface sensation that he’d become during 1997. Much of Page’s prime years as a pro wrestler was in his 40s.

He has seriously introduced a “fountain of youth” to Pro Wrestling that doesn’t need illegal substances. It’s just doing Yoga, eating right, and getting mentally fit to tackle anything.

With Pro Wrestling’s recent infrastructure of being unable to create top-level draws like it did in the past, wrestling is still reliant on stars from the past. That’s no problem, as many of the older stars are still in great physical shape thanks to modern physical/mental techniques and better eathing that takes better care of wrestler bodies long-term. DDP was the pioneer of adding such longevity to the business.

And DDP cares… How many people, in this world, would have reached their hands out to Jake Roberts or Scott Hall in their absolute lowest points as DDP did? Seriously and the wrestling business supposedly gives you many friends in the business. Well, only 1 reached out to the two of them at their absolute lowest points when they probably pushed away many friends trying to help them. DDP kept trying and never gave up.

DDP is a Saint, period…

Where I first got a glimpse of how generous DDP can be was during early 2000… I knew DDP’s webmaster RichinKC and we’d chat often on AOL Instant Messenger (LOL, damn I’m old!) about wrestling, website stuff, life, and other things… One day, he approached me if I’d like to have a preview copy of DDP’s first book, Positively Page – The Diamond Dallas Page Journey. As many longtime readers may know from back then, I was actually performing Book Review columns at the time after I enjoyed Mick Foley’s first book. I jokingly said to Rich “could you get it signed, too?”, not thinking that would go anywhere. About a week later, the preview copy of Positively Page arrives in the mail and not only was it autographed by Diamond Dallas Page, but he wrote a personal message there as well. Holy cow… Gave me goosebumps seeing that and I thanked both he and Rich up and down for that.

If you are a wrestling fan and as someone needing something positive in your life right now, I’d seriously look up Diamond Dallas Page’s first book Positively Page. It is a very inspiring read.

It’s one thing to be a top drawing star in the pro wrestling business… It’s another to make a permanent impact on the business and its wrestlers as Page has. Careers are being extended and lives are being saved.

DDP is a Saint to Pro Wrestling, period.

So just chill… Until the next episode!

LordsofPain.net’s YouTube Channel

Play my Super Mario Maker 2 courses on the Nintendo Switch:

Die Hard (themed after the Bruce Willis Film): 2YH-48W-HMG
Legend of Zelda – Ocarina of Time Wrong Warp: 2RX-QCV-N9G
Super Link Bros: HBD-H5C-QRF
Santa Bowser Came Early: GL8-F48-3XG
Super Wrestling Bros: 0H6-9HT-S5G
WWE Royal Rumble: SDH-JC2-HFG
WWE Elimination Chamber: P3B-5DJ-91G
WCW World War 3: BT4-W1Y-HRG
Extreme Championship Wrestling: 42J-4GT-W3G

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